List Film

Burlesque (2 stars)

Ill-advised directorial debut is dross, despite effort from Christina Aguilera and Cher


(12A) 119min

Burlesque is the type of film that made musicals go out of fashion. It plays up the kitsch in order to cover its many deficiencies. At best the film has curiosity value as it features the acting debut of Christina Aguilera, who also contributes three new songs to the soundtrack. Perhaps director Steve Antin thought he’d play it safe when giving the pop star the quasi-biographical role of small town girl who quits her job as a waitress to make it big in Los Angeles as a singer, but then she is not helped by the need to deliver clunky dialogue, laughably burst into song from time to time and then incredulously outsmart cynical property developers as part of a ridiculous side plot.

Cher returns to the screen after a seven-year hiatus to play a former dancer who is now the owner of a burlesque club facing bankruptcy. From the moment that Cher makes her entrance popping up on stage from behind a gaggle of girls there is a self-mocking tone to her performance – intentional or not – that lifts the tone of proceedings whenever she is on screen. It’s a fun role but sadly neither of these girls can rescue this run-of-the-mill dross. The side-story involving gentrification and unrequited love is laughable in Antin’s ill-advised directorial debut.

General release from Fri 17 Dec.

Burlesque trailer


  • 2 stars
  • 2010
  • US
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Steven Antin
  • Written by: Susannah Grant
  • Cast: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Julianne Hough, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Dianna Agron

Run-of-the-mill implausible sequin-fest featuring Aguilera as a small-town girl who quits her waitressing job to make it as a singer and is taken under the grizzled wing of former dancer (and failing burlesque club owner) Cher.

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